Society

Why is it nice to be nice? Solving Darwin’s puzzle of kindness

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World Kindness Day is a global 24-hour celebration dedicated to paying-it-forward and focusing on the good Eva M Krockow Andrew M Colman Briony Pulford We are encouraged to perform acts of kindness such as giving blood, cleaning a communal microwave at work, or volunteering at a nursing home. The Conversation Of course, even without the encouragement of an international awareness day, kindness and selflessness are widespread among both humans and animals. Many people donate to charity and feel significantly happier ... Read More »

Green finance? Why global banks are pledging billions to fight climate change

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Banking giant HSBC has pledged US$100 billion (£76 billion) to “fight climate change”, to be spent on sustainable finance and investment over the next eight years. Simon Wilde The Conversation It also commits to increasing its own use of renewable energy and to reducing its funding of coal projects. HSBC is following a growing trend among investment banks which includes a US$200 billion funding commitment from JP Morgan Chase, the acquisition of the UK’s Green Investment Bank by Macquarie, and ... Read More »

Society relies on a social compact. Time for tax-avoiding multinationals to sign up

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Pat Leahy: The political centre needs to force big business to pay its way The Irish Times Pat Leahy Western countries are by and large the most civilised, comfortable and desirable places to live in the history of mankind. If, in a version the “veil of ignorance” thought experiment, you could choose any time or place to live, not knowing your race, abilities, talents or gender, you’d be mad not to choose to be born into a modern western country, ... Read More »

The human touch: Australian eyes that ‘can’t look away’ from Manus

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As the crisis on Manus Island deepens, it sheds light on an unwritten history, still in the making, of deep friendships between asylum seekers and their supporters in… Arnold Zable The Age Contrary to the accusations made by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton that advocates are telling asylum seekers on Manus Island or elsewhere what to do, their long-time supporters are extremely worried about the men’s wellbeing and… They are torn between deep anxiety at the danger and stress the men are ... Read More »

UN slams Australia’s human rights record

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Last night, the United Nations Human Rights Committee released its recommendationsfrom its review of Australia’s compliance with a key human rights treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Anna Cody  Maria Nawaz The committee harshly criticised Australia for failures in key areas. The Conversation These included the treatment of refugees, Indigenous rights and inadequate protection of human rights, including the lack of a national human rights act. What is the UN Human Rights Committee? This is the treaty body for the… UN slams Australia’s… Read More »

Yanis Varoufakis, the Bad-Boy Former Finance Minister, Is Back

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In a new book, a star of the European left argues that Greek’s financial crisis prefigured the fissures afflicting Europe today. Rachel Donadio The Atlantic PARIS — In the often-dismal European landscape of technocrats and party hacks, few figures are as colorful and polarizing as Yanis Varoufakis. Remember him? The bad-boy Greek finance minister who, in a heated moment in the European debt crisis in 2015, showed up to meet the chancellor of the exchequer in a long black leather ... Read More »

Fight for Your Right to Proxy

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Are shareholders finally on equal footing with corporate executives — or have investors become drunk on power? Alicia McElhaney When Institutional Investor published a report on proxy reform in its April 1991 issue, corporate governance was on the precipice of change. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System and College Retirement Equities Fund were lobbying the Securities and Exchange Commission to give institutions a say in corporate governance, as Stephen Clark reported in “Push Comes to Shove on Proxy Reform.” The raft of ... Read More »

Will the Easy-Money Era Lead to a Recession?

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The Fed has already achieved its objective of escaping 0 percent Now the goal is to avoid recession. Samuel Rines As Janet Yellen readies for her departure from the Federal Reserve, a sentiment creeping into markets that the era of “easy money” is over—as if somehow the Yellen Fed was the root of all easiness. The National Interest Yellen’s Fed was the first in recent history to oversee only rate increases—and not encounter a recession. That is quite the accomplishment: ... Read More »

Brussels to preserve Iran nuclear deal: Mogherini

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The European Union will make sure that the Iran nuclear deal “will continue to be fully implemented by all, in all its parts,” the European Union’s foreign policy chief said on Nov. 10. SAMARKAND Hurriyet Speaking at a conference in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, the EU’s Federica Mogherini said the agreement was “a major achievement of European and international multilateral diplomacy that is delivering,” Reuters has reported. U.S. President Donald Trump on Oct. 13 dealt a blow to the pact by refusing ... Read More »

‘We are not very caring’: Michelle de Kretser on Australian society

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In her new novel The Life to Come, the Miles Franklin-winning author critiques Australia’s character, and the boom that made us bad Brigid Delaney The Guardian Children of Australia’s long boom – who travel the world only to complain about lack of good coffee, who signal virtue by retweeting an asylum seeker story, who couldn’t imagine living in a house with only one bathroom, who are “really into food” – may find Michelle de Kretser’s new book an uncomfortable read. ... Read More »

‘It’s been a night from hell’: Homeless pushed out of Santa Ana River face uncertain futures

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Lisa Weber pushed her red-rimmed glasses higher on the bridge of her nose Thursday morning as she pondered how best to move her belongings off the dirt trail she has called home for months. Hannah Fry Los Angeles Times Her blue eyes seemed to show a glimmer of hope in contrast with her doleful expression. A friend living in a tent farther down the trail passed by and waved. ‘I’m not scared because I have a plan’ Back to sleeping ... Read More »

Sexual violence and harassment going up, according to ABS survey

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Sexual violence against women is on the rise, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) By social affairs correspondent Norman Hermant and Catherine Hanrahan  ABC The latest Personal Safety Survey shows the proportion of women experiencing sexual violence in the past year increased from 1.2 per cent to 1.8 per cent since the last survey conducted in 2012. But very few sexual assaults are being reported to police. In 2012, an estimated 17 per cent of women reported their ... Read More »

The island that swapped donkey rides for offshore cash

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It was still dark when the private jet began its descent Inside, its decor was sumptuous, the black leather seats piped with red, but outside rain was falling and the temperature on the ground below was a bracing 2C. Jon Kelly BBC The date was 21 January 2013, and the island that the plane was heading towards hadn’t yet woken up. The candy-red Challenger 605 aircraft carried the registration G-LCDH – the initials of Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton, the World ... Read More »

Citizens’ Assembly ideas confront worst of global warming

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Climate change is a pressing moral issue and action is needed for future’s benefit Kevin O’Sullivan  The Irish Times The recommendations made by the Citizens’ Assembly have the potential to achieve the kind of societal transformation necessary for Ireland to play its part in countering the worst affects of global warming caused by humans spewing out CO2 into the Earth’s atmosphere. Its brief – to identify how the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change – may in time ... Read More »

America’s Crisis of Courage

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Character remains the issue that confronts us in almost every story about national politics today Eliot A. Cohen The Atlantic The American crisis is, at its root, a crisis of character.Yes, many other forces and phenomena are in play: the crash of 2008; technologically driven changes to the economy; gerrymandering and sociological divisions between coast and heartland, urban and rural life; cultural clashes over the norms of marriage, drug use, and religious liberty; wars that have not gone well; the ... Read More »

There Will Soon Be Floods Of Climate Refugees: Will They Get Asylum?

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New Zealand is considering creating a new visa for people fleeing environmental disasters brought on by climate change Adele Peters FastCompany In 2012, a migrant worker from the tiny, low-lying Pacific island nation of Kiribati tried to become a refugee in New Zealand, arguing that he and his family were afraid to go home because of the impacts of rising sea levels. The courts didn’t accept that the dangers were imminent–or that they were due to reasons of persecution that ... Read More »